GARRY MONK says his Leeds United side remain at a very early stage of their development, insisting his Whites are “one and a half” out of ten on a scale of where they would wish to be.
Leeds will look to bounce back from last Sunday’s 2-1 loss at Huddersfield Town with tomorrow’s Championship hosting of Cardiff City – managed by former Whites boss Neil Warnock.
But even in spite of last weekend’s derby defeat to the Terriers, Monk’s men still sit fifth in the table and with a seven-point gap back to seventh-placed Norwich City and eight points clear of eighth-placed Derby County who have a game in hand.
Leeds are enjoying their best season since relegation from the Premier League in 2004 and even second-placed Brighton and leaders Newcastle United are potentially within touching distance with the Whites seven points behind Brighton and eight behind Newcastle – who both have a game in hand. But Monk insists there is still immeasurable potential within his side, with the head coach still only eight months into tenure as he approaches his 31st game in charge. Monk said at the back end of last year that his Leeds team were only “one out of ten” en route to their long term development and quipped: “We are on one and a half now.
“It’s very hard to put time-scales on these things because potential, for me, is immeasurable. It’s down to the desire of the player, the desire of his work on and off the pitch and obviously the information and the training that is given to them to help them do it.
“Players can go as far as they want – it’s down to the individual and obviously the coaching that they are getting. This group, for sure, has a long way to go.
“This squad is still in transition if you look at it in that way but what they have done they have done incredibly well. They have worked extremely hard to this point to give themselves the performance levels they have been reaching and they have shown themselves that they can be a good player.
“But right now it’s more of a could be. There’s still more to come so the fight and desire to do that is going to be key to the future of these players and the future of this club.
“It’s my job to maintain that and keep improving that and my staff every day.”
Leeds have finished in the Championship play-offs just once since their relegation from the Premier League – when finishing fifth under Kevin Blackwell in 2006 before losing to Watford in the play-off final.
But United are now 4-11 to finish in this season’s top six and those odds will be considerably shorter if the Whites net back-to-back wins at Elland Road against 17th-placed Cardiff tomorrow and versus fifth-bottom Bristol City on Tuesday night.
Asked how many more points he thought it would take to seal a play-off place, Monk laughed: “We haven’t got the calculator out yet.
“We need to focus game by game and I’m sure with six or seven games to go we can all start getting the calculator out and sit together and work out what maths that we need to do to secure it.
“But until we reach that point we have to really focus on the next game and that’s Cardiff.
“We have to put all our effort and quality into that game to make sure that we we can come out with the result that we want.”